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Case study surveys about the social acceptance of wind energy

In a literature review, we identified factors which might influence acceptance of wind energy development. Based on these factors we developed research hypothesis which we assessed by carrying out surveys to different regions in the state of Brandenburg. We conducted the surveys in multiple municipalities, both urban and rural ones. For the rural area, the municipalities Dahme/Mark, Niederer Fläming and Uebigau-Wahrenbrück were chosen, all being located in the relative south of the state (c.f. figure 1).

Fig. 1: Location of the study areas (orange) in the the planning regions of Brandenburg. Click here for the interactive map

For the urban context, the project focused on the capital of Brandenburg, Potsdam, which is the biggest city in the state and lies right outside of Berlin. In all these regions, surveys were conducted using questionnaires. The questionnaires differ partly, depending on regional context and specific focus for the municipality. For example, for Potsdam questions were added to estimate how much time the people living in the city spend outside the city, because they would not be able to notice wind turbines from inside the city borders. For Uebigau-Wahrenbrück on the other hand, specific questions targeting the relation of respondents to the history of coal mining were added, because this industry played and still plays a big role in the regional development. The results from Potsdam and from the rural areas are compared and discussed alltogether after a basic analysis.

The overall five hypotheses, that resulted from the factors identified in the literature review, for both the rural as well as the urban survey sites are as follows:

  • People in urban areas have a greater acceptance towards wind turbines than people in rural areas.
  • With greater distance to the wind farms, the acceptance of wind energy increases.
  • Younger people have a higher acceptance of wind energy than elderly people.
  • The better people are informed the higher is their acceptance of wind energy.
  • Environmental attitude shows urban-rural differences.

The assessment of these hypothesis is included in the section where the results of all areas are compared and discussed.

People in urban areas presumably might tend to be more open towards wind energy. City dwellers might provide fewer contact points with local wind turbines in sub-urban areas (cf. Khorsand et al. 2015). They may only benefit from the generated “green” electricity, while possible impacts of wind energy, like changes in the aesthetics of the landscape and possible effects on wildlife, might affect more intensely people living close to the turbines, installed in rural areas (You can find a comparison of the results of the rural and urban areas in the corresponding section).

Besides the relation of distance to and acceptance of wind energy (implicitly including the urban-rural gradient), the second aspect incorporated in the assessment of the hypothesis is the acceptance related to the level of information about wind energy. People who are better informed about the topic of wind energy and related topics like the energy transition or climate change might have a higher acceptance of wind energy development overall than people who feel or are informed worse.

With the comparison of the attitude of younger and older people towards wind energy, we tackle the role of cultural imprint in influencing the level of acceptance. For example, what role does energy security or technological progress play in forming an opinion about the upcoming development of wind energy production? This aspect is especially important for regions that are historically pressed by a competing technology like coal. Considering the possibly higher cultural imprint of older people compared to the youth, this aspect might become relevant for incorporating any differences in the levels of acceptance.

In the following section, we first present the methods and results used for assessing the acceptance in the rural and urban area and discuss them afterwards, each in their own chapter. Following, we compare the findings of both area types and deal with the aforementioned hypothesis. Concluding, we discuss the limitations of the methods and the data of this survey and describe their impact on the interpretation of the overall results.

research.txt · Last modified: 2017/03/10 00:05 by r.rodriguescamargo